Ways of Seeing II

"Men survey women before treating them. Consequently how a woman appears to a man can determine how she will be treated. To acquire some control over this process, women must contain it and interiorize it. That part of a woman's self which is the surveyor treats the part which is the surveyed so as to demonstrate to others how her whole self would like to be treated. And this exemplary treatment of herself by herself constitutes her presence. Every woman's presence regulates what is and is not 'permissible' within her presence. Every one of her actions - whatever its direct purpose or motivation - is also read as an indication of how she would like to be treated. If a woman throws a glass on the floor, this is an example of how she treats her own emotion of anger and so of how she would wish it to be treated by others. If a man does the same, his action is only rad as an expression of his anger. If a woman makes a good joke this is an example of how she as joker-woman would like to be treated by others. Only a man can make a good joke for its own sake. One might simplify this by saying: men act and women appear. Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at. This determines not only most relations between men and women but also the relation of women to themselves. The surveyor of a woman in herself is male: the surveyed female. Thus she turns herself into an object - and most particularly an object of vision: a sight."

~ John Berger

Ways of Seeing

"The meaning of an image is changed according to what one sees immediately beside it or what comes immediately after it. Such authority as it retains, is distributed over the whole context in which it appears.... The real question is: to whom does the meaning of the art of the past properly belong? To those who can apply it to their own lives, or to a cultural hierarchy of relic specialists?...

The art of the past no longer exists as it once did. Its authority is lost. In its place there is a language of images. What matters now is who uses that language for what purpose."

~ John Berger, Ways of Seeing

Negative Space

There's a concept in art called negative space. Basically, negative space is defined as when the space around a subject forms an interesting picture that is different from the subject itself. Which got me to thinking about my life, of course. Specifically, the negative space of my life - the current subject of my life and what is or isn't depicted by the space around it. Or said another way, what isn't in my life and how it sheds light on what is there.

Stepping back, I'm not so sure it's a balanced composition. Know what I mean?

A Measure of Your Own Belief

Recently I was trying to hang a silky blouse and it kept falling off the hanger and floating to the floor. My first thought: "Poor Blouse, she can't take it anymore." I have this urge to anthropomorphize objects in my life. There's something compelling about believing everything has a spirit.

I think that's why I'm drawn to Bent Objects by Terry Border.

And another take on this type of art by Vik Muniz:

How to Get Creative

You're not born creative. It's a skill and like all skills has to be learned and exercised. This great WSJ article is a good resource for building your creativity muscles. From the article:

10 Quick Creativity Hacks

1. Color Me Blue A 2009 study found that subjects solved twice as many insight puzzles when surrounded by the color blue, since it leads to more relaxed and associative thinking. Red, on other hand, makes people more alert and aware, so it is a better backdrop for solving analytic problems.
2. Get Groggy According to a study published last month, people at their least alert time of day—think of a night person early in the morning—performed far better on various creative puzzles, sometimes improving their success rate by 50%. Grogginess has creative perks.
3. Daydream Away Research led by Jonathan Schooler at the University of California, Santa Barbara, has found that people who daydream more score higher on various tests of creativity.
4. Think Like A Child When subjects are told to imagine themselves as 7-year-olds, they score significantly higher on tests of divergent thinking, such as trying to invent alternative uses for an old car tire.
5. Laugh It Up When people are exposed to a short video of stand-up comedy, they solve about 20% more insight puzzles. When people are exposed to a short video of stand-up comedy, they solve about 20% more insight puzzles.
6. Imagine That You Are Far Away Research conducted at Indiana University found that people were much better at solving insight puzzles when they were told that the puzzles came from Greece or California, and not from a local lab.
7. Keep It Generic One way to increase problem-solving ability is to change the verbs used to describe the problem. When the verbs are extremely specific, people think in narrow terms. In contrast, the use of more generic verbs—say, "moving" instead of "driving"—can lead to dramatic increases in the number of problems solved.
8. Work Outside the Box According to new study, volunteers performed significantly better on a standard test of creativity when they were seated outside a 5-foot-square workspace, perhaps because they internalized the metaphor of thinking outside the box. The lesson? Your cubicle is holding you back.
9. See the World According to research led by Adam Galinsky, students who have lived abroad were much more likely to solve a classic insight puzzle. Their experience of another culture endowed them with a valuable open-mindedness. This effect also applies to professionals: Fashion-house directors who have lived in many countries produce clothing that their peers rate as far more creative.
10. Move to a Metropolis Physicists at the Santa Fe Institute have found that moving from a small city to one that is twice as large leads inventors to produce, on average, about 15% more patents.

—List and article by Jonah Lehrer

Writing Resources

"Writing is the hardest work in the world. I have been a bricklayer and a truck driver, and I tell you -- as if you haven't been told a million times already -- that writing is harder. Lonelier. And nobler and more enriching." --Harlan Ellison

So you want to be a writer, huh? Well, as the old saying goes, a writer writes.

1. The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron

2. Sin and Syntax by Constance Hale

3. - it uses the stick (as opposed to the carrot) to get you to write regularly

If you've got that down and are looking for more help, the following resources might be of interest:

1. The American Society of Journalists and Authors - a trade association for freelance writers

2. Mediabistro

3. The Writer's Market

4. Portable MFA in Creative Writing (New York Writers Workshop)

5. The Guide to Literary Agents put out by Writer's Digest Books

6. Thinking Like Your Editor: How to Write Great Serious Nonfiction--and Get It Published

7. The Association of Author's Representatives


The Golden Ratio

Speaking of equations. The Golden Ratio aka Divine Proportion is used by mathematicians and artists alike. It's equal to 1.618033988749.

It gets a lot of play as the formula that determines beauty. If the features of your face, like the length of your face to the width of your face, are this proportion to each other, you are considered more attractive.

I know - enough of the math! 

An Organizer's Dream

Growing up I used to spend time in the make-up aisle of my local grocery store organizing the nail polish bottles by color. It was one way I coped with my very chaotic upbringing. Today, I still appreciate the soothing qualities of good ol' organization. So you can imagine how excited I am to discover Ursus Wehrli. He's a Swiss artist who may just have OCD.

Sausalito Art Festival

I had a fabulous day at the festival. I've never appreciated more art and all its various forms. A few artists I fell in love with Lisa Telling Kattenbraker out of Washington: she does contemporary American batik; some really great stuff on cloth that you must see up close.

Cali Hobgood-Lemme out of Illinois: she does hand-colored black and white photographs. Her sensibility is so me. Don't you think?

Paul D. Gibson out of San Francisco: he has a studio in Hunter's Point. Really great paintings.

Check them out!